Maybe it was an ugly divorce where the accusations and rhetoric left a judge concerned about your kids. Maybe there was a misunderstanding about the cause of a bruise or a broken bone. Whatever happened, you found yourself involved with the Children’s Division of the Missouri Department of Social Services. Your children got temporarily removed from your custody and placed in foster care during the investigation.

Eventually, after following directions that may have included parenting classes or even substance abuse counseling, you got custody of your children back. However, your family just isn’t the same. You’ve come to realize, either through behaviors or from what your child has said that the foster home where your children stayed was abusive or the children got neglected and poorly cared for. Your family now faces years of expensive therapy and counseling as you try to help your children overcome this damaging experience.

Abuse and neglect are all too common in foster care situations

Many states recognize that their foster care systems get overloaded, which can lead to lack of resources to verify that foster parents are doing right by the children placed with them. The fewer resources and the less oversight there is, the greater the potential for abuse and neglect to impact the children placed in foster care. Because there are no centralized agencies that govern or monitor foster care, accurate statistics about the prevalence of abuse are not readily available.

However, there are plenty of anecdotes that abuse happens in foster care environments. It can range from the diversion of funds intended to care for children to adult personal uses, to overt physical abuse and deprivation. Children deprived of basic needs, kept secluded or physically, emotionally, verbally or sexually abused may develop unhealthy coping mechanisms as a result. When a family gets reunited after a foster care separation, there may be serious damage that needs to get addressed.

Recovery from abuse can take years

Depending on how severe the abuse was, the emotional state of the child before the trauma of getting taken from home and the length of the abusive foster care situation, it may take a long time to work through the damage caused. Children and teenagers may require intensive, ongoing therapy as well as group support sessions and even medication to cope with and process their experiences.

Children should be protected from abuse, not exposed to it when Children’s Division of the Missouri Department of Social Services gets involved in their lives. If your child got abused or feels traumatized by a foster care experience, you should offer support in any way you can. That will likely include therapy or counseling, as well as seeking justice against the abuser, possibly through a civil suit for damages.